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Winner of pinewood pods prize - launched for overnight campers at Port Lympne Reserve, near Hythe


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A budding zoologist who convinced his schoolmates to start collecting competition tokens has won a really wild prize worth £10,000!

For six weeks, What’s On readers across the county were eagerly collecting tokens in the hope of claiming a two-night stay in the new Pinewood camping pods at Port Lympne Reserve for up to 30 children.

But no one was more eager than Chatham Grammar School Year 9 pupil Dominic Weller, who hopes to eventually study animals as a zoologist.

Pinewood camping pods at Port Lympne Reserve
Pinewood camping pods at Port Lympne Reserve

As a result of his suggestion that they enter the competition, a party from Chatham Grammar School for Boys have bagged themselves a two-night stay in the Pinewood camping pods at the animal park near Hythe.

Michelle Childs, the teaching assistant who entered the competition on behalf of the school, said: “Dominic is thrilled as it will be a great experience for him.

“He came to me and suggested that we enter the competition. All of the students pulled together and a lot of them asked their friends and family to collect the tokens so it reached out to a lot of the Kent community.”

Competition winner - Dominic Crisp, a student at Chatham Grammar School for Boys. Picture: Steve Crispe
Competition winner - Dominic Crisp, a student at Chatham Grammar School for Boys. Picture: Steve Crispe

Almost 3,000 tokens were collected by 15 different groups who entered the competition, and the winning youngsters at Chatham Grammar School collected more than anyone else.

As well as a two-night stay in the luxury camping pods, they will also receive three meals a day, a safari experience with the chance to feed some animals, and a free goody bag. Each child is able to bring their family along for a day, so they can share the incredible experience.

The pods, which can accommodate up to 44 guests at a time, are positioned within roaring distance of the reserve’s lion, Amur tiger and cheetah enclosures.

The Pinewood camping pods site was built with funding from the 2013 ICAP Charity Day, where the company – a leading markets operator – gives away its revenues and commissions to selected charities.

One of Port Lympne's residents
One of Port Lympne's residents

Damian Aspinall of The Aspinall Foundation, the conservation charity working with Port Lympne Reserve, said at the time: “We were honoured to be one of ICAP 2013 chosen charities. Our new ICAP funded educational immersive experience will provide the opportunity for Pinewood guests to learn about our conservation work in a fun and engaging way that will both inspire and motivate.”

And that’s just what it will do, with Dominic among the prizewinners!

Michelle said: “We are so excited and cannot believe we have won! The students are really looking forward to the safari as well as the whole experience.”

Later this year, Port Lympne will also launch its Treehouse Hotel, which includes 10 luxury glass fronted suites set high in the trees overlooking the reserve.

Winners of the What's On competition: students from Chatham Grammar School for Boys
Winners of the What's On competition: students from Chatham Grammar School for Boys

The group who collected the second highest number of tokens was the 1st Snodland Scout Group. Thirty scouts and three leaders have won a day’s entry at Port Lympne Reserve plus an animal talk from an expert.

In third place, the 1st Murston and Bapchild Scouts have also won a day’s entry at the reserve for 30 scouts and three leaders.

For information, go to www.aspinallfoundation.org/shortbreaks

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